By Claire Castillo
INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers took a step Tuesday to extend health benefits to the families of law enforcement officers and other public safety officials who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, authored Senate Bill 152 because he said was concerned about how surviving families are affected by the loss.
Michael Whited, a firefighter from Muncie, testified in favor of the bill because he saw first-hand how a death in the line of duty can affect a family. He cited an incident where a Muncie fighter died, leaving the widow and children struggling to find access to health care.
“Police officers and firefighters put themselves on the line and their families deal with a lot,” Whited said. “Especially with firefighters working 24-hour shifts so the surviving spouse, their whole world stops.”
The bill provides that if a person is employed by the public safety department and dies in the line of duty after June 30 the remaining spouse and family will have health insurance. The surviving children will also have health coverage until age 18 or longer under some circumstances.
Sen. Blake Doriot, R-Syracuse, said he appreciates the sacrifices of public safety officials.
“These people are so vulnerable and we need to protect them and their families,” Doriot said.
The bill now will goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for review.
FOOTNOTE: Claire Castillo is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.